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July 07, 2017

C: Tyler Flowers, Braves

Season Stats: .319/.412/.459 (129 OPS+), 6 HR, 28 RBI, 1.7 WAR

Yadier Molina is amid a down season, and after Posey, Yasmani Grandal has the highest WAR both this year and over the last 365 days. Via Baseball Prospectus' framing stats, he has the majors' second-best pitch-framing numbers. That combination makes him a tempting choice here, but with my roster already awash in Dodgers, I can’t resist turning to Flowers, who’s suddenly blossoming (sorry) at 31 years old. Not only has he ranked among the top six in framing even amid limited playing time in each of the past three seasons, he’s improved dramatically as a hitter during that span. Even in 56 fewer PA than Grandal, I can’t resist picking him here. 

1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves

Season Stats: .343/457/.727 (204 OPS+), 14 HR, 25 RBI, 2.6 WAR

3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies

Season Stats: .298/.349/.540 (115 OPS+), 15 HR, 63 RBI, 3.5 WAR

3B: Anthony Rendon, Nationals

Season Stats: .297/.398/.549 (143 OPS+), 16 HR, 51 RBI, 3.7 WAR

Freeman's eye-opening numbers sit atop 2016 career highs WAR (6.5) OPS+ (157) and homers (34); he has to be here, but the cost is elsewhere in the infield. In the end, I went with the two third basemen, both in the league’s top five in WAR, which means snubbing Cozart, whose track record as a decent hitter is short, and whoever the league's second-best second baseman is (Josh Harrison?). From an in-game standpoint this would be fine, as both Turner and Rendon have plenty of second base work on their resumés, and Seager is certainly capable of playing nine innings at short.

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

Season Stats: .271/.353/.545 (137 OPS+), 23 HR, 54 RBI, 2.1 WAR

OF: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers

Season Stats: .258/.333/.613 (144 OPS+), 24 HR, 56 RBI, 2.2 WAR

Eight outfielders besides Blackmon are bunched between 1.8 and 2.6 WAR for 2017. The top four—Tommy Pham, Michael Conforto, Chris Taylor and Bellinger—all have short-to-nonexistent track records as top-shelf players coming into this year, and less playing time this season than the other four (Stanton, David Peralta, Adam Duvall and Inciarte). The 10 DRS props up Pham's group-high 2.6 WAR, which looks fluky given the sample size, and his modest 4 UZR. In the end, my choices for outfield backup were driven by the longball. Who wouldn't want to see these guys take a shot at setting off the Dinger Machine?

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